As Americans contemplate their options on the November ballot, Constitution Party presidential candidate Darrell Castle hopes voters will consider an alternative to the two main parties: A political party espousing strict adherence to the document that established the U.S. government more than two centuries ago.
During a campaign stop in Wyoming this week, Castle told the Laramie Boomerang he views the 2016 election as a chance for the Constitution Party to gain more national visibility. The party has already attracted supporters of former Republican candidate Sen. Ted Cruz and runner-up Libertarian candidate Austin Petersen, he said.
“So many people that we’ve talked to don’t feel like they have a legitimate choice,” Castle said. “I’ve been involved in the Constitution Party for 24 years now. This is the first election cycle where there are no other conservative candidates in the race — not even one who lies about it, like there usually is. So, we do feel good.”
Castle, an attorney and Vietnam War veteran, was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, in 1948. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from East Tennessee State University and earned a law degree from Memphis State University — now the University of Memphis.
In 1984, he opened a private law firm in Memphis, Tennessee, and has since launched firms in several major cities in the Midwest. He has been married to his wife, Joan, for about 38 years, and the couple has one daughter.
He was the Constitution Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2008, running alongside Chuck Baldwin. This year, he was named the presidential candidate, with independent business owner Scott Bradley as his running mate.
Castle said it’s difficult to remember a time when a president hasn’t overstepped his authority. The president’s responsibility, he said, is to fulfill the role explicitly outlined in the Constitution — commander in chief of the armed forces and chief executive — and essentially serve as the third leg of the “three-legged stool of government.”
“He’s not the chief legislator, he’s not in power to legislate through executive order or any other things,” Castle said. “So, he has certain mandates that are cast on him. He has to ensure that we have a republican form of government, that’s one of his jobs, and he has to assure the states that they’ll be free from invasion, that’s another one of his jobs. But his oath — his oath is not to us, the American people. It’s not to the country. It’s to the Constitution.”
Castle said he supports continued investment in the coal industry. If elected, one of the key components of his presidency would be a push toward energy independence, he said.
He also supports returning control of federal lands to the people of individual states.
“That is one of the primary reasons I picked my old friend Scott Bradley as my running mate,” Castle said. “He totally understands the land issues in the Western states even better than I do. And I wanted him to speak to the people about that and assure them that if we’re elected, the federal government will no longer own 90 percent of Nevada.”
At the international level, Castle supports greater sovereignty for the U.S. and withdrawing from the United Nations. He argues the U.S. should make its own deals and be ready to defend itself anytime it becomes necessary — and the only people who make decisions for the country should be directly accountable to U.S. voters.
Consequently, Castle said, while he has “no problem” with free trade, he is not in favor of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“If we want to work out a deal with Mexico, where we ship them our stuff for free and they do the same without the burden of tariffs and that sort of thing, I’ve got no problem with that,” he said. “I just don’t want to see the sovereignty of the United States challenged in international courts by international corporations and other bureaucrats that are not accountable to the American people.”
Another central component of Castle’s platform is repealing the Federal Reserve Act, a move he claims would ultimately strengthen the U.S. dollar. The Federal Reserve’s missions of ensuring full employment and ensuring the value of the dollar have each proven to be an “abject failure,” he said.
“The constitution says that Congress is to have control over our money, over our monetary system, and I would return to that,” he said. “I would make sure that we had at least a partially gold-backed currency to offer people, to add some stability to the world. And I would open up currencies for competition; any currency could compete.”
Under the new system, Americans could use currencies such as the euro or franc to purchase goods, he said.
“That’s fine with me, but my goal would be to make the U.S. dollar so strong and so competitive that people wouldn’t want to do that,” he said.
Castle currently has ballot access in 18 states, with an ultimate goal of appearing on 42 states’ ballots. He described ballot access as the most difficult part of presidential politics because it is controlled by state legislatures.
“Not only do they pass the laws under which you must qualify for your state ballot but they are responsible for vetting the signatures that you collect,” he said. “They decide whether it’s a valid signature or not. So, in effect, if they tell you you need 5,000 you really need 10,000, ’cause they’re gonna throw half of them out.”
While the Constitution Party doesn’t have the resources of a major party, Castle’s campaign is working to raise awareness of his message through social media, web presence and stops throughout the U.S.
“The Constitution is so vitally important,” Castle said. “It is the charter of liberty. It is what separates us from the other nations, and it’s what gave us the ability to become the freest and the most profitable nation in history. It’s provided the most benefit for the most people in all of human history, and if we don’t do something, it’s going to disappear — and very quickly so.”